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The genesis of capitalism in the thought of Karl Marx II

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  1. The genesis of capitalism in the thought of Karl Marx II Lecture class: „Transition and Transition Debates in Global History“, 22.03.06, David Mayer

  2. Overview • Marx‘s conception of history - general categories, part II • Marx ambigous interpretation of the transition to modern capitalist society • Excursus: Marx on India

  3. „Definite relations“? • General relations for human beings: • Humans <-> Nature • Humans <-> labour process • Humans <-> Humans • „Labour process“ as conditio humana: • „metabolic interaction“ between human beings and nature in the „everlasting nature-imposed condition of human existence.“ • Meeting ends: (Re-)producing subsistence in social-cooperation.

  4. „Definite relations“? • Productive forces (Produktivkräfte – productive powers): all the material and immaterial capacities at hand to realize the labour process. • Means of production. • Human labour-power and its knowledge. • Social relations of production connect labour power and means of production in a specific way. -> Who controls? Who possesses? Who commands the surplus labour? • -> Classes and class struggle.

  5. From: David Smith/Phil Evans, Marx‘s Kapital For Beginners, London 1982

  6. Modes of production Mode of production Productive forces Social relations of production Assumption: In a viable socio-economic system the productive forces correspond to the social relations of production.

  7. The course of world history or just a „broad outline“? • Asiatic • Ancient • Feudal • Modern bourgeois • Each mode of production has its own „laws of motion“ • Transition from one mode to another by „social revolutions“ • The Focus is on social relations/ the specific way of exploitation – not technology or degree ofexchange.

  8. WHAT is being socially produced? • In general „goods“. • In capitalism: „commodities“ „The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as ‚an immense accumulation of commodities,‘ its unit being a single commodity.“ (Karl Marx, Capital Vol. 1, in: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/cw/volume35/index.htm)

  9. From: David Smith/Phil Evans, Marx‘s Kapital For Beginners, London 1982, p. 30

  10. The commodity as an oddity... From: David Smith/Phil Evans, Marx‘s Kapital For Beginners, London 1982, p. 31 From: David Smith/Phil Evans, Marx‘s Kapital For Beginners, London 1982, p. 30

  11. From: David Smith/Phil Evans, Marx‘s Kapital For Beginners, London 1982, p. 32

  12. From: David Smith/Phil Evans, Marx‘s Kapital For Beginners, London 1982, p. 32

  13. Capital = capitalism? Historical forms of commodity production: „Simple commodity production“ C – M – C (C....Commodity; M...Money) „Antediluvian“ form of capital: M – C – M‘ Capitalist commodity production M – C...P...– C‘ – M‘ (...P... Production-Process)

  14. Capitalism Two decisive features of capitalism: • Capital • Free Wage-Labour („free in a double sense“) the only commodity a capitalist can purchase at less than its full value -> worker sells labour-force, capitalist gets labour. Given that labour is the source of the value of all commodities, labour paid less than the value it produces becomes the source of ‚surplus value‘ (profit) • Imperative for accumulation • Generalized competition

  15. Explaing the transition • The emergence of capital • The emergence of free wage-labour -> seperation of hitherto direct producers from ownership/control of means of production -> Marx‘s views on the transition from feudalism to capitalism are ambiguous and not unitary.

  16. Different emphases I: • Early writings (1840s) • Echoing the „commerzialisation model“ • emphases on world market expansion, universalization of division of labour, increasing exchange • Colonisation as pivotal • Focus on Merchants, Towns, technological developments • Fascination with Capitalism and bourgeoisie: • “constantly revolutionising the instruments of production” • “uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation” • Bourgeoisie “has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties” • “…need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe.” (Communist Manifesto, 1848, in: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm)

  17. Different emphases II: • Shift towards structures of production (1860s) „so-called primitive Accumulation“ • Focus on • „expropriation of the rural population“ • genesis of wage-labour • capitalist farming • the (coercive) political actions supporting these processes

  18. Primitive Accumulation • As analysed for England: The spoliation of the church’s property, the fraudulent alienation of the State domains, the robbery of the common lands, the usurpation of feudal and clan property, and its transformation into modern private property under circumstances of reckless terrorism, were just so many idyllic methods of primitive accumulation. They conquered the field for capitalistic agriculture, made the soil part and parcel of capital, and created for the town industries the necessary supply of a “free” and outlawed proletariat. (K. Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, 1867, in: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch27.htm)

  19. Two ways of Transition • “The transition from the feudal mode of production is two-fold. The producer becomes merchant and capitalist, in contrast to the natural agricultural economy and the guild-bound handicrafts of the medieval urban industries. This is the really revolutionising path. Or else, the merchant establishes direct sway over production.” (K. Marx, Capital, Vol 3, 1894, in: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch20.htm)

  20. Marx on India: Double Mission ? • 1853: ‚The Future Results of British Rule over India‘ • „England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying the material foundations of Western society in Asia.“ • -> sweeping aside stagnant ‚oriental despotism‘ • „The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, [...] it goes naked.“ • Human Progress so far as „hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.“ • „[...] Hindous themselves have grown strong enough to throw off the English yoke altogether.“ (K. Marx, The Future Results of British Rule over India, 1853, in: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1853/07/22.htm)

  21. Aspects of Marx‘s view on India: • Teleological undertone • Construction of „Asiatic mode of production“ • Colonization exposed as brutal subjugation; those subjugated can liberate themselves. • Spiral movement: every advance contains within itself an element of regress • -> one and the same process/event can be simultaneously positive and negative.